Local college campuses eye safety after MIT officer's killing

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - After law enforcement officials say the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer as he sat in his patrol car Thursday night, colleges and universities in northeast Florida are taking a look at campus safety.

The University of North Florida and Flagler College are just two area campuses reminding their officers to be aware.

"It could be anybody. And that's how scary it is," Flagler College student Emi Stephens said. "I'm kind of scared of the dark, so I never really go out in the dark now, but even more so walking back and forth from work and things like that. I've been very careful about doing things like that, make sure I'm with some one."

Student Luke Zerra says the shooting hasn't changed how he feels on the open campus.

"I feel pretty secure on campus," he said. "We have the blue lights that you can hit to get help immediately, and there's a police officer on campus here."

St. Augustine police work with campus security, and there is an officer on duty every day from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., the window of time when the shooting occurred at MIT.

St. Augustine police spokesman Mark Samson says even though officers are alone, backup is never far away.

"They're right downtown, so our officers who are on patrol are on the same channels, frequencies, things like that, so they have communication with the officers that are working the downtown area, too," Samson said.

At UNF, police say the shooting has meant a heightened awareness among the department's 29 officers.

"We've talked to our officers about that, being aware of what's going on and who's around, and we're always looking for those problems and try to address them as they come up," said Lt. Mike Gwynes, of the UNF Police Department.

Those at Flagler College and UNF say they'll wait for details on the MIT officer's killing and reexamine their own policies to see if there are ways they can improve.

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